The CRKD Nitro Deck is quite simply a premium grip for the Nintendo Switch, working with both the original and OLED models.
It’s unique in many ways, and ever since its reveal earlier in the year it has received a lot of attention thanks to it’s unique design, nostalgic features and ergonomics.
But is it worth the hype and does it compete with other grips on the market?
Here is our CRKD Nitro Deck review.
Table of Contents
The CRKD team (said like cracked) has certainly put some time and effort into how the packaging looks, with a outer slip case wrapping around the box that features your travel case and the CRKD Nitro Deck itself.
The protective case is pretty basic, but certainly a nice way to store and transport your beloved switch, it even has a section to store your extra thumb sticks, cables and cartridges.
It even comes with a shoulder strap too, should you trust it enough.
On the shelf, this packaging is certainly going to catch some attention, nice work CRKD.
Build Quality & Product Design
We were lucky enough to be sent the Gamecube Edition Nitro Deck, which is a part of their nostalgia line, featuring a mint colour and a SNES colour also, but every thing else is the same compared to other editions.
When I first pulled this out of the box, I was surprised out how light it was…concerned actually. But after I slid and locked in the screen those concerns soon disappeared.
This is a large grip, one of the largest I have reviewed in fact, so if you’re a fan of slim devices do take this into consideration, that said this thickness gives it the comfortable ergonomics, and unique nostalgic design that I have quickly fell in love with.
The left hand side of the face featured one of your hall joysticks which is removable, allowing you to add different grips and/or designs. Two extra sticks come included in the travel case.
The right thumb stick is yellow just like the Gamecube controller and features the infamous circular design, but if I had to be really picky, this circular design should in fact be on the left (grey) thumb stick as that would have kept it as close to the original as possible.
For some reason they have switched it, which isn’t the end of the world, but was likely overlooked by the product designers.
But this doesn’t affect performance at all, and the joysticks never drift, making them far better than your typical joy-con sticks.
Below that is a your large D-PAD which I haven’t had any issues with, it’s big enough to sense direction when playing some of the best fighting games, and high enough out of the shell to give it a decent amount of travel too.
Below that is your itty bitty screenshot button.
Getting To Grips With The Buttons
On the righthand side you will find your action buttons, these are high gloss, spongy and feature the Gamecube button colours to partner with the purple coloured shell.
Below the analogue stick is your turbo button, this is great for customising your controller to your play-style, it’s something i don’t use regularly but I know many gamers that do.
The light behind the transparent turbo button is a little harsh, but it can be lowered or turned off completely using the “PROG” button on the back of the device.
Behind The Scenes
Speaking of the back, you will see that there’s a lot going on!
At the top you will find a INPUT and a OUTPUT USB-C port, tucked away under the bar. This allows you to charge your device, and even use it as a wired controller when your Switch is docked.
This is a neat “extra” feature but in all honesty I didn’t use the Nitro Deck like this at all. It feels too light as a solo controller; instead I recommend using something else from our best Nintendo Switch Controllers list.
Below that is the kickstand which I absolutely hate. It’s incredibly stiff, it feels super cheap and it struggles to stay in place because of the stiffness and small low quality clasps underneath it, which you can see in our video review.
It does keep the device upright, and in positions that are easily viewable, but because it’s such a large part of the product, it puts a damper on the overall experience.
I wish they did something innovative here, or made it from metal, this would have gave it a premium feel which customers would have been really happy with in my opinion.
On either side of the kickstand you will find your back buttons S1/S2/S3/S4 which can be mapped to single or a series of buttons which is neat, these are quick touch button and have little to no travel to them which is needed for fast paced competitive games.
At the button there’s a little bit of ventilation and a slider that ejects the Nintendo Switch from the grip.
And finally on top you have your large shoulder buttons which I have mixed feelings about. The large ZL/ZR analogue buttons are beautiful. They have a lot of travel to them (just like the original Gamecube controller), are soft and make very little noise.
Whereas the L/R shoulder buttons are complete opposite, they sound like you’re touching tin foil every time you press them. They are incredibly loud, rattly and when doing the shake test of the whole product, they make a heck of a lot of noise, something that just isn’t needed in a controller.
This was actually brought to my attention by my girlfriend, as I tend to play my Switch on the sofa or in bed, but after her comment I couldn’t help but hate these buttons after a couple of days reviewing the Nitro Deck.
The Nitro Deck feels lovely in the hands, and that’s all thanks to the large textured grips on the side, the perfect weight and the well positioned large buttons across the device.
It’s a curvy controller that nestles into adult hands with precision, with customisable sticks and mappable buttons allowing you to build it to your play style with ease.
Even the insertion of the console itself is delightful, as the Nitro Deck’s sliding clasps on the inside make it feel like you are inserting an oversized cartridge into a Gameboy Advance.
It clicks in beautifully without fear of damaging your console.
Seeing as this is CRKD’s first product I am very impressed with what they have brought to the market. Admittedly it’s not unique as we’ve seen the NYXI Wizard Controller and the RetroFlag Gamecube Switch Controller do it first, but CRKD have done it best.
Yes, there are areas that need work, and I really hope that they can tweak these in future iterations, but the issues mentioned in this review are not deal breaks they are at worst, just annoying.
They are competitively priced too, starting at $59.99 for the standard editions or $89.99 for the nostalgic editions., our guide on where to buy Nitro Deck variants should help you track one down if you’re interested, or use the link at the top of the page.
This is now one of our favourite Nintendo Switch controllers of the year, great work CRKD, just sort out that kickstand yeah?
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A 29 year old fella that’s had a Gameboy addiction ever since he was a child. Brandon is the founder of RetroDodo and created a YouTube channel with 240,000 subscribers dedicated to retro gaming products. He now wants to create the No.1 site to showcase the latest retro products from around the globe.